Con­fed­er­ate plaque in Texas set to be re­moved

Capi­tol marker said slavery not Civil War cause

Hartford Courant - - World&nation - By Paul J. Weber As­so­ci­ated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Ab­bott agreed Fri­day to re­move a plaque in the state Capi­tol that re­jects slavery as the un­der­ly­ing cause of the Civil War, bend­ing af­ter years of re­sis­tance by state Repub­li­can lead­ers in the face of Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments fall­ing na­tion­wide.

A unan­i­mous vote by the State Preser­va­tion Board, which Ab­bott chairs, or­dered the re­moval of the 60-year-old plaque that pledges to teach “the truths of his­tory,” adding that “one of the most im­por­tant of which is that the war be­tween the states was not a re­bel­lion, nor was its un­der­ly­ing cause to sus­tain slavery.”

The plaque is among nearly a dozen Con­fed­er­ate mark­ers in and around the Texas Capi­tol. It’s the first slated to come down since the deadly 2017 white na- tion­al­ist rally in Char­lottesville, Va., that led to the re­moval of a string of such mon­u­ments na­tion­wide.

But Ab­bott and state lead­ers re­sisted act­ing on sim­i­lar calls in Texas, and the gov­er­nor made no com­ment af­ter Fri­day’s vote. Texas Repub­li­cans had been res­o­lute af­ter the Char­lottesville rally that tear­ing down Con­fed­er­ate mark­ers wouldn’t change his­tory, but pres­sure in­ten­si­fied af­ter a black law­maker from Dal­las be­gan con­demn­ing the plaque that hangs near his Capi­tol of­fice as his­tor­i­cally in­de­fen­si­ble.

Dal­las state Rep. Eric John­son ap­peared un­sure af­ter Fri­day’s vote whether ef­forts to re­move other Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols at the Texas Capi­tol would be­come eas­ier.

“Why shouldn’t we be able to talk about the mon­u­ments on the Capi­tol grounds or any­thing else,” John­son said. “I don’t think it’s a con­ver­sa­tion we should be afraid to have, not in 2019 in Amer­ica, in Texas.”

The State Preser­va­tion Board is gov­erned by Texas’ three most pow­er­ful Repub­li­cans — Ab­bott, Lt. Gov. Dan Pa­trick and newly cho­sen House Speaker Den­nis Bon­nen. They voted to re­move the plaque with no dis­cus­sion and left with­out speak­ing to about a dozen re­porters in the room.

None of their of­fices im­me­di­ately re­turned mes­sages for com­ment.

The only other law­maker on the board was Repub­li­can state Rep. Jeff Leach, who tweeted af­ter the meet­ing: “The plaque should never have been in­stalled — and it has been there for far too long. We cel­e­brate be­cause to­day is the day that ends.”

The plaque was first hung in 1959. It re­mained mounted to a wall next to a stair­case in the Capi­tol af­ter the vote, and it was un­clear when it would be re­moved.

In 2000, then- Gov. Ge­orge W. Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion re­moved two Con­fed­er­ate me­mo­rial plaques in the state Supreme Court build­ing fol­low­ing pres­sure from the Texas NAACP.

JAY JANNER/AUSTIN AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Texas State Rep. Eric John­son of Dal­las says he’s un­sure if the re­moval of a Con­fed­er­ate plaque near his of­fice at the state Capi­tol will lead to oth­ers be­ing re­moved.

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